Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We've got some good news and some bad news. So in the grand tradition of Appalachians everywhere, we'll start with the bad news. Tomorrow we'll pony up the good stuff. So if you don't like bad news, biff off for now and come back later.
For about ten years now, la famille Johnson has placed Decibel the parrot on the front porch during the warm months. Decibel isn't out there 24/7, only during daytime hours when someone is home. Mr. Johnson works at home, but way in the back where he can't see the front porch.
Decibel is 24 years old now -- more or less the same in parrot years as in people years. He was captive bred, so he really doesn't know what it means to be a macaw. He's just a little human with feathers. Who screams loud. And bites hard. Really hard. He can't break an adult finger bone (although he's certainly tried), but I don't know about the slender digit of an elementary school kid.
Why would I care about Decibel biting a kid? I'll get to that.
First I would like to say that Decibel has become a happy fixture in our neighborhood, which is walker-friendly. Kids and adults alike greet him from the sidewalk, and I always warn the little ones to look and not touch, to only come close when Mom or Dad is with them.
Imagine my consternation, then, when on Friday at 3:30, The Spare called me (I was still working at school). One little girl -- name, age, address unknown -- had come up on our porch, banged Decibel's cage, pulled his food out and dumped it, then started shoving her fingers in between the bars. When Decibel did what Decibel does, i.e. lunged with intent to maim, the unruly child threw Coca-Cola all over Decibel, his cage, and my front porch.
Spare told me that this same child has come onto the porch before, usually with friends, and that she has agitated Decibel before, but never to this extent. (Spare did not speak up and chase the kids off because she was partly raised Methodist and, as she put it, "knows what it's like to be yelled at by a stranger." Of course the yelling occurred at church, and nowhere but church.)
I could use your advice on this, readers. Am I liable if some moron twisted girl gets bit by my parrot because a parrot's gonna do what a parrot's gonna do? Decibel won't bite if you don't stick your fingers in his space. It's not like he's a dog on a leash. He's sitting in a cage on my porch.
Should I keep Decibel indoors?
We have a few more prime weeks of "parrot weather" here in October. Decibel likes the porch ... under normal circumstances. And all the other parents and kids in my neighborhood like seeing Decibel out there.
I don't want any kid to get bitten, though. This is Snobville, a village of 11,000 people -- 9,000 of them lawyers.
Forget the twisted kid. What are Decibel's rights?
Oh, and by the way, I intend to come home from work early on Monday. If this child goes for Decibel again, she will find herself in the stern hands of a Title One District school teacher who not only loves Decibel but also hates coming home before all her work is done and her desk is tidy.